Prepping Fields (a nice way to say Spreading Poop)
The first week of May 2018 it was finally time to get our field ready for planting. After the soil analysis we had done back in the fall, we knew we were going to need to add lime and horse manure to our soil to make it friendly for the lavender. We decided that even if it took more time and/or money, we were going to do everything we possibly could upfront to get these plants to survive. We had given ourselves 2 years to make this work, but if our first plants didn't make it, that would set us way back.
First up, horse manure. Lots and lots of horse manure! The manure was what would help our soil drain. This was a must, since our soil has so much clay, it would definitely not drain as fast as lavender would need it to.
Luckily, there are several equestrian centers near us. We needed approx 120 cubic yards of manure. If you are like me and that means nothing to you, that came out to 9 dump trucks full. Now is a good time to mention that we had rented a tractor for a week to do some rototilling and to pull the bed shaper after the soil was all amended. What we did not have was a manure spreader. The dump trucks came and dumped their loads of poop at the top of our field. It was up to us to get it from there to the field we'd be planting, and get it spread out into the rows.
Our system was this: One person would run the tractor at the top of the field, and fill the back of our pickup truck with a load of manure. Another person would drive the pickup down to the field where 2 others would follow behind, scooping out the manure in a line where the plants would be going. When the truck bed was empty, the driver went back to the top for a refill while the 2 people shoveling took a quick break. Every bit of that 9 dump truck loads of manure was hand shoveled into rows. We were so blessed to have amazing family and friends (shout out to Jim and Kathy McCabe, Amanda and Nicole Keagle and Shawn Cole) to help us with this backbreaking project. Four full 10 hour days later, the manure was all in the field.
Now we needed to add the lime to each row. We did have a spreader for this job, and were told by the guy selling the lime that it, "flows like water". Unfortunately the lime did NOT flow like water, it compacted in the spreader like cement! It would not agitate, and absolutely would not work that way. So Jerry basically squatted in the bucket of the tractor while his dad drove verrrry slowly over each row. He sprinkled the lime out on top of the manure. Pulling up to the field and seeing the picture below was one of the funniest moments of the process so far.
Eric Grubb —
Just started reading your articles about dirt and prep. I live in Ohio and will have the same soil problems. We bought 5 acres and would like to grow something that would give us a slight return for the money.
How many acres did you initially grow and how many total do you have after 4 years?